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My Shot of the Day: Hiking for the Virgin from Bagnères-de-Bigorre


I walked straight up the mountain out of  Bagnères-de-Bigorre at noon. The last of the autumn leaves were so thick they were like ice under my feet where the trail went steep; which was most places.  I saw a Bearded vulture, then a fox, then I passed over a small, muddy stream framed in blue violets.

Along the way, I made these notes:

La Vierge de Baudet

–    Warm morning air rising from the fogged in valley lifts the smell of cows from the farm below, just over the cliff-side.


–    So many things I can’t capture with a camera: tumble down wall along a dark forest path, all covered in vines and ferns and waiting white butterflies.

–    The Virgin looks over the valley.  She’s been there since the 1860s. Hundreds of meters up! What the heck went on in southern France in those days that so many were so desperate for so much religion?

–    From Col du Olivet there are children’s voices in the trees below. There is a man too, somewhere down there. There are the bells from around the necks of sheep. It is all faint, however, against the raucous singing of birds on the hunt for a mate.

The Next Village to the West

–    Mazes of pastoral valleys squirm below, disappearing to the east and west but running smack up against the wall of the Pyrenees to the south.

– I love my wild Rocky Mountain home but there is nothing like walking in these vast and ancient (!) cultural landscapes that forever hover between wilderness and farm.

–    Through a tunnel of gorse on the slope of a col. Butterflies. Butterflies!


–    Dropped into green grass fields full of dandelions then back up into the trees on the contour and down a stone lined


path that once was a road.


–    At the bottom of the Vallon du Salut was a bubbly creek full of trout. Yellow cress spread up the hill slope and old people sat in the sun.










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